Masters-bound Jones beats Kuchar in playoff

Sun Apr 6, 2014 7:26pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Australian Matt Jones executed two near-miracles in quick succession to win the $6.4 million Houston Open in a playoff on Sunday.

He dramatically earned a last-minute ticket to the Masters when he sank a 40-yard birdie to beat American Matt Kuchar at the first extra hole at the Golf Club of Houston.

"I told my caddie I would chip it in, so it was nice to do it," Jones told NBC TV after an Australian won in Houston for a ninth time.

"It's been a while coming. I've been out here for seven years now so it's good to finally get one. I've had a few chances."

Minutes earlier, Jones birdied the same par-four 18th by sinking a 45-foot putt that at the time seemed like it would be too little, too late.

But Kuchar, playing behind, pulled his approach shot from 216 yards into the water hazard at the same hole and, after taking a penalty stroke, did well to salvage a bogey thanks to a deft pitch and force a playoff.

Jones earns $1.152 million for his first PGA Tour victory and becomes the fourth player from his country to win in the past seven weeks, joining Jason Day (WGC Match Play), John Senden (Tampa Bay Championship) and Steven Bowditch (Texas Open).

The 33-year-old from Sydney has never played in the Masters, and he needed nothing less than a victory in Houston to secure the final spot in the first major of the year next week.

Jones started the final round six strokes behind Kuchar and fell further adrift when he bogeyed the first hole.   Continued...

 
Matt Kuchar tees off from the 6th tee during the first round of the WGC - Cadillac Championship golf tournament at TPC Blue Monster at Trump National Doral. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports